The Blue Boat
If the boat is ugly, but the bay is beautiful,
is the sail a good one? And if the other boats
are beautiful, but their hulls and sails are stenciled with ads,
is the weather still beautiful if the winds are light?
And if the winds are steady enough to take us out of the calanque,
tacking from deep inside its high cliffs,
and out across the bay to the base of the mountain,
then back to the cliff with the cave that looks
like the mouth of a giant with tonsils showing?
And if the boom hits me in the head, but I'm carrying
aspirin? And if the back of the boat is leaking
but the front of the boat is automatically bailing?
And if the "president" of the club, who rented us the boat,
offers us white wine grown here in Cassis
when we return, and we spend an hour talking,
is that part of the experience?
And does experience matter more than pleasure?
And is pleasure better than peace? I've nothing
but peace today—and sore bones—
sitting alone in my apartment in Aix
without any phone. My head's stopped hurting.
I'm completely free, but is that better
than assigning myself some task? For example
editing the photos from yesterday? Here is the boat
the spiders had been living in till we cleaned it.
And here is the foot of water sloshing in the bottom
when we still couldn't stop the leak in the stern.
And these are the huge swirling speckled cliffs
you can't see from the land. And here's me
beneath the shade of my straw hat,
pale as a mushroom dragged out of its cellar,
looking like a scholar who thinks everything's in books,
seduced by a blue boat, and the sea.
- Alan Feldman, Kenyon Review, Summer 2009